SUNSET LOUNGE: Historic Makeover is Here
The Sunset Lounge was known as the “Cotton Club of the South” as it was said to be on the “Chitlin’ Circuit which featured great African American musicians such as Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few. The Sunset became a popular “live” entertainment venue in the late 1930’s. These associated events made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of Jazz & Big Band History. The Sunset lounge is one of the few remaining performance venues on the Circuit and represents a real and direct contact with such revered performers mentioned above and will serve as catalyst for job creation in the neighborhood.
Cultural tourism is the most desirable component of the tourism industry on which Florida thrives. The Sunset lounge represents the key element in a much larger redevelopment effort in the Historic Northwest. Restoration of the Sunset Ballroom and ancillary facilities will create a vibrant destination place in a historically black community and will most likely spin off numerous diverse economic development opportunities in the community.
The first major work will be demolition of the non-historic modifications to the building. This will include removal of the apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floor and restoration of the ballroom and mezzanine. The exterior of the building will be addressed with new windows and doors to reflect the original features. The interior of the building; including first floor bar/lounge will be completely overhauled. Future programming will include Jazz, Blues and R&B musical performances as well as operate as a venue for comedy nights and scholarly lectures. The 1st floor will be operated daily as a food & beverage venue featuring live entertainment.
The lead Architect selected is REG Architects, Inc. They are a local firm consisting of planners and interior designers well versed in Historic Rehabilitation and Restoration. The Contractor for this project will be a Construction Manager at Risk firm solicited through a Request for Qualifications process. They solicitation will be public this Summer.
Demolition of 2nd and 3rd floor will commence this Summer with project completion date scheduled for January 2019.
For more information call 561.822.1550 or email Genia Baker at GBaker@wpb.org
Building On the Move for New Bed & Breakfast
Dr. Alice Moore a long time community resident, educator and civil rights advocate “gifted” her homestead at 801 4th St and several “shotgun” buildings to the CRA in February of 2014. As a condition of this gift, the Agency agreed to re-purpose these buildings as a community facility with a focus on African American Culture.
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will re-purpose the Mickens-Moore site as a Bed & Breakfast to provide accommodations for patrons visiting the Historic Northwest and for events goers at the Sunset Lounge. In order to make the Mickens-Moore properties a lodging facility there is a need to increase the number of rentable rooms, thus the CRA will accept a historic building located at 316 Gardenia Street. The Gardenia Building will be re-located from its current site and transported to the Moore site at 801 4th St in the Historic Northwest. The transport is scheduled on August 2017 and will be featured as an exciting community event! For more information call 561.822.1550 or email Genia Baker at GBaker@wpb.org.
Historic Northwest Rises Again
Historic Northwest Rising (HNWR) is a bold initiative that will shape the revitalization of the Sunset Lounge and the surrounding community. One of the main activities is the revitalization of the Sunset Lounge and improvements to the vacant lots across the street. That effort is being led by the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
With more attention focused on the Historic Northwest neighborhood, the resources to address the concerns of the people who live and work there increases too. An ongoing series of community conversations is keeping the focus on community people and the issues that mean the most to them.
On April 22, 2017 at the Annual Heart and Soul Fest, community members had the opportunity to bring their ideas to life with the support of our project team at a Better Block event. Ideas that residents wanted to test included new businesses, outdoor concerts, Kids playground, etc.
To learn more about the HNWR project and to see the report on the community engagements go to www.northwestrising.com